Ian Thake wrote:
Would it be reasonable to assume that our hypothetical master swordsman isn't just swinging his bokken, he's cutting with it instead? It's not just a physical action as there's also an intention associated with it. For the swordsman the act is about downing a foe, not about moving a stick, and this is an element this will be missing from X's practise of swinging the bokken.
So does it make a difference to the example if X starts off knowing what all the bokken swinging is about? If X knows what he's trying to achieve, what the practise is about, and knows what success looks like - the physical appearance of Saito's swing - I'd say the practise isn't going to be necessarily empty.
Sure... *both* people swinging the bokken are thinking of cutting with a sword. The problem is that "X" only knows of and can think of only one way to add power to the cut... let's say with strong arms and a lean. On the other hand Saito is also thinking about the sword as cutting on the downstroke, but he's also aware of powering the upstroke, clever ways to get power to the downstroke, weight and pressure shifts inside that don't show up in any outward "rocking" motion, breathing in such a way that he is building his "ki" while at the same time not using any tension, and so on. If you'll watch Saito and some of the others, various of their swings are not correct martially (the stroke goes too far back), but for the type of ki exercise that involves "contraction and expansion", they're just fine.
BUT.... if you watch X and you watch Saito and you don't have any particular experience with using the bokken for "tanden" training, you won't see the difference. My point was along the lines that Saito will build up his ki and his tanden strength while "X" will essentially build up his shoulders, arms, etc., not to mention his aerobic strength and *some* of what is called ki (some ki always develops as strength develops). With all this training, X will imbue ALL of his motions and techniques in the rest of his Aikido with arm and shoulder; Saito (whose name I'm using only as an example) will not only build his powers, but he will also train his body to move in a way that is not arms and shoulders.
Trust me, you don't want to point out to "X" that he might be doing the bokken-swinging wrong. If he is honestly on the Way of Aikido, he'll take a look at it... if he's worried about his status and position in the "community", he'll get a bit defensive.